Losing a partner or spouse is devastating, and many seniors who face this life-changing event are left not only with their grief but also with difficult decisions about their finances. Looking into the future after a loss can be scary, especially if the loved one who passed typically handled the household finances; the person left behind may be worried about how to handle their budget with only one income, or how to ensure that they can stay comfortable throughout their post-retirement years. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help your loved one make sure their finances are in good shape, which will alleviate some of their stress.
It’s important to remember that big decisions, such as selling your home, should be considered carefully. Your loved one may be eager to put the past behind them and move forward in order to start healing, but it may not be a great time to put a house on the market, or they may not be financially prepared to make repairs and updates to the home to get it ready to sell. Help your loved one take stock of all the details before they move forward.
Here is a brief guide for helping a loved one make financial decisions after losing a spouse.
Focus on Care Options
Now is a good time to decide whether your loved one will need some type of long-term care. Some options to consider are assisted living, memory care, and independent living. Each one represents a different level of care; for example, if your loved one chooses an independent living community, they will live in a smaller space, can socialize with other seniors, and have access to a range of amenities like meal plans, fitness classes, and concierge services. Additionally, your loved one will no longer need to stress over maintaining their household, as many facilities offer services for laundry, housekeeping, and other tasks. Costs can vary depending on the facility you choose. Consider touring a few facilities to discover their amenities and specific costs.
Make Sure They Have Health Coverage
One of the most challenging aspects of getting older is finding the right health care. As beneficial as Medicare is, it can be difficult for seniors to keep track of deadlines, important dates for changes, and copayments. Talk to your loved one about signing up for a Medicare Advantage plan, which will help cover things like dentist visits and eye exams. These plans are offered by private companies and help many older adults pay for care that isn’t covered by Plans A or B.
One of the best things you can do to help your senior loved one is to help with downsizing. While moving to a smaller home can be beneficial in many ways — including saving money and added safety — selling a home is a huge process that often requires spending quite a bit of money. Research home prices in your area to determine the amount your home is worth (there are websites that can assist you with this part) and estimate how much your senior loved one may be able to earn from selling their home.
Downsizing is also time-consuming, as your loved one will need to go through all their belongings and make decisions about what to keep in their new, smaller home. Once they have decided to downsize their belongings, make sure they understand the pros and cons of this decision and help them get organized to make the job a little easier.
Before selling, it’s always a good idea to connect with an expert realtor. A knowledgeable and skilled agent can remove the stress out of selling your loved one’s home by marketing the home effectively to sell it for the highest price.
Work on a Budget
Setting a budget is essential for a senior who has recently lost their partner. Even if they have savings, they may need to use some of that for funeral arrangements, moving, or for daily living, especially if their spouse was the only one with an income. So, talk to your loved one about how they can set a budget and stick to it. This might include anything from rethinking the way they shop for groceries to selling a vehicle they don’t need.
Talk About Life Insurance
If your loved one’s spouse had life insurance, it can not only help pay for their final arrangements, but it can also help with medical bills or other outstanding debts. Make sure your loved one understands all the ways they can use the payout, and start a conversation about whether they have their own policy. It’s not always an easy talk to have, but it will be beneficial for both of you, allowing for peace of mind during a difficult time.
Helping a senior loved one make financial decisions after losing their spouse can be tricky as well as emotional. However, it’s essential to make sure they don’t jump into anything right away. Whenever possible, put off major decisions until they’ve worked through the worst of their grief in order to minimize stress and anxiety. By taking steps to help them stay financially sound, you’ll be giving them the ability to ensure their quality of life going forward